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New green market for Bay Ridge

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At 8 a.m. on Saturday, October 4, the ribbon will be cut on Bay Ridge’s new Greenmarket.

The market – which will continue through December — will be set up on Saturdays, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the parking lot of the old Key Food store, at 9408 Third Avenue, thanks to the agreement of Walgreen’s, which plans to open a drugstore at the site next spring.

The announcement of the Greenmarket’s impending opening was made by City Councilmember Vincent Gentile, who brokered the deal, in the parking lot that, in just a few days, will be bustling as shoppers browse stands piled high with fresh produce, baked goods and fish, dairy and meat products from local purveyors.

The establishment of the farmer’s market, stressed Gentile, is extremely good news for residents of the area, who have lost many of their shopping options as supermarkets have closed over the years, most recently the Key Food, which shut its doors in June.

“When life hands you lemons, you make lemonade,” remarked Gentile, who had come prepared with a pitcher full of the tart beverage to offer to the residents and local activists who had joined him for the announcement.

“Many faced hardship as the supermarkets began to disappear one by one,” Gentile noted, adding that the arrival of the Greenmarket – which took over a year to bring to fruition — is “one way to fill the gap.” It will also benefit neighborhood merchants, he added. “Where ever Greenmarkets go, shoppers follow,” Gentile contended.

The market has been long-awaited by area residents, said Michael Hurwitz, the director of Greenmarket. “For the last six months, every week, probably five or six Bay Ridge residents emailed us, saying when are you coming?”

It was this level of interest, he added, that indicated to him and other backers that the market was likely to be successful – a state of affairs that local enthusiasts can help to ensure. “The more we support it,” Hurwitz stressed, “the more it will grow.”

The opening of the Greenmarket “makes a win-win situation out of the loss of a neighborhood grocery store,” remarked Hien Nguyen, district manager of Walgreen’s for Brooklyn and Staten Island. “We are happy to be part of the solution to bring fresh produce and healthy items to the neighborho­od.”

During the press conference, the question arose as to what would happen to the market once Walgreen’s opens. Its backers, said Hurwitz, are taking a “wait and see attitude. If it’s successful,” he explained, “we will ask Walgreen’s if we can stay here longer.”

Hurwitz added that he expected the new Greenmarket to outperform earlier incarnations that had foundered in the neighborhood.

“The last location was a gorgeous park,” Hurwitz recalled, “but it didn’t’ have naturally existing food traffic. Third Avenue has. We are confident that this is the type of location that can work. There’s existing foot traffic. It’s in a hub, and it used to be a food resource so we think people will know it.”

Local residents who attended the announcement expressed their excitement over the Greenmarket’s arrival. “This is fantastic,” enthused Mildred Bitetti, who lives at Marine Avenue and 96th Street. “We need this desperately. We were used to Key Food being here. We have had to go out of our way for everything.”

Yolanda Trevino, who lives at 91st Street and Shore Road, concurred. “It’s very convenient,” she stressed. “I have been going to Foodtown but it’s too expensive so I have had to get a ride to somewhere where they sell fruits more cheaply.”

Greenmarkets operate under the auspices of the city’s Council on the Environment. The Bay Ridge market is the 47th Greenmarket to open in the New York City.

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